Imagine a world without activists


December 28, 2016

Imagine a world without activists

by Stephen Ng@www.malaysiakini.com

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Free Riders Everywhere You Look

In the story, ‘Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, And Nobody’, the activists would not sit down believing that when “there was an important job to be done, Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.”

Since the Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers apparently care little to look into a certain problem, despite being vested with the power to do so, the activists would not accept the fate that at the end of it all where Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

This is why the activists have to cause a stirring in a situation. Yes, although their frequent campaigns may make the people in the corridors of power feel uncomfortable, the activists play a very important role in parliamentary democracy.

When the activists are barking, the powerful individuals and the kleptocrats no longer enjoy the ‘peace and tranquility’ to rape the rich resources belonging to the Malaysian people. Suddenly, the people become aware of what is happening to the natural resources God has endowed on this country.

Testimony of a failed system

The system, along with the people in the corridors of power, be it the executive branch of the government or those who are tasked with a job to protect the welfare of the people and the nation, has somehow failed to deliver what it is designed to do.

The Malay proverbial saying, “Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi” (it is disappointing when the fence is supposed to protect the padi, it ends up destroying the crop) is an apt description of our politicians today, especially on issues that do not attract votes.

This is why activists like Shariffa Sabrina, Henry Goh (Malaysia Nature Society president) and others like Clare Rewcastle-Brown (Sarawak Report) have come to the forefront to highlight issues relating to the shrinking tropical rainforests.

We have always believed that our democratic system is upheld by the executive branch of the government, the Judiciary and the Parliament; however, activists like the media are also a pillar that upholds and protects the democratic rights of the people.

Shariffa Sabrina, for example, entered into the limelight when she was arbitrarily arrested for allegedly highlighting some tropical rain forest clearing which caused degradation to the environment; her efforts have helped us become more concerned about the way our government has been managing natural resources.

In short, the activists are the checks-and-balances within the democratic system. They will not hesitate to criticise or expose a lie, if they can.

In her capacity as Peka president, Shariffa Sabrina does her work as a volunteer. Like most other activists, she has great passion for her work. It is unlikely that she would give up the cause. Despite the arrest, Shariffa Sabrina and Norhayati are adamant to continue with their campaign to stop the indiscriminate clearing of tropical rainforests.

They would not put down their spade, but continue digging and exposing the people responsible for the deforestation until a few feathers are ruffled, and good sense finally prevails.


STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.

UMNO General Assembly– A Circus of Unchecked Racism


December 15, 2016

UMNO General AssemblyA Circus of Unchecked Racism

by Dennis Ignatius

The low road to bigotry and parochialism

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Don’t be afraid of UMNO–Stand Up Against Racism and Religious Bigots. They have ruined the Malay spirit by corrupting the minds of young Malays.

Instead of using the occasion to speak to an anxious nation worried about its future or demonstrate that it has the will and the capacity to rise to greatness again, delegates took the low road to bigotry and parochialism.

Party conferences often provide an insight into the soul of a political party – its mindset, its ideas, its mood, its convictions, the quality of its leaders. For many Malaysians, the insights that the recently concluded UMNO General Assembly provided was profoundly disturbing.

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Instead of using the occasion to speak to an anxious nation worried about its future or demonstrate that it has the will and the capacity to rise to greatness again, delegates took the low road to bigotry and parochialism.

In so doing, they reminded the nation yet again that theirs is a party with no real solutions, no great ideals, no enduring principles and no inspiring leadership. 

Unchecked racism

In a nation brought up to believe in diversity and multiculturalism, even if only nominally, it was shocking to see so much unchecked racism on display.

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A Malay who has been corrupted by UMNO

One delegate, for example, fumed that a Chinese is heading a government-linked company. “GLCs belong to us, but why are we giving them (top positions) away to other races,” she asked. (Interestingly, she made no mention about the non-Malay who helms 1MDB.)

Another delegate lamented that the Transport Ministry is currently headed by a non-Malay and equated that with a loss of opportunities for Malays.

Yet another referenced Indian attacks in the 11th century, alleged Chinese collusion with the Portuguese in the 16th century, and Thai attacks in the 18thcentury to stress that Indians, Chinese and Thais should not be ungrateful for being allowed to live in Malaysia despite their earlier treachery.

And there were threats of collective punishment too. The Chinese were warned that there could be serious consequences, including the closure of Chinese schools, if they continued to reject UMNO-BN. Penangites, for their part, were cautioned that their international airport might be moved out of the state if they continued to support the opposition.

The most risible of all, however, was the claim that non-Muslims oppose hudud because they want to keep the Malay-Muslim community in a sinful state, weaken them and eventually take over the country. I wonder if that particular delegate understood the implications of his own statement – that somehow, despite the oft-repeated claim that Malaysia is already an internationally respected Islamic state, Muslims here are still “living in sin.”

Meanwhile, one fawning senior delegate went so far as to even proclaim that the party leader has been chosen by God, that he has some sort of divine mandate to rule. Coincidentally, it came on the same day that the President of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, who claimed to be God’s “preferred candidate” lost his re-election bid. Inscrutable are the ways of the Almighty indeed.

And then there was the Red shirts leader – race-baiter extraordinaire – receiving the adulations of admiring delegates. Clearly, he is a hero to the UMNO crowd despite their protestations to the contrary, and that too speaks volumes of the prevailing sentiment in UMNO.

Reckless, dangerous and injurious

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Raja Petra Kamaruddin with DAP’s Hannah Yeoh–Now an UMNO apologist

UMNO apologists would, of course, have us believe that these racist sentiments and statements were merely the ramblings of a few overly-excited members or that such rhetoric was intended only for internal consumption, to fire up the troops, to promote greater cohesion within the party.

If that was the objective, it was reckless, dangerous and deeply offensive – a sign of just how desperate they are.

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Besides, racism is racism, after all, no matter how it is packaged or practised. Any party that seeks to unite its members or seeks to justify its uniqueness or claims a special right to rule by demonizing other racial groups is a racist party that ought to be condemned by all Malaysians.

In any case, the party leadership, far from disassociating itself from the bigotry that surfaced at the assembly, appears to have set the very tone for it.

The DAP (which as Wan Saiful Wan Jan of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs pointed out, with some justification, is merely a code word for Chinese) was singled out and pilloried as anti-Malay, anti-Islam, anti-monarchy and anti-constitution. In addition, it was argued that if the DAP came to power, Malay institutions like MARA, FELDA, RISDA and FELCRA would be dismantled while Malay fishermen, farmers and smallholders would be abandoned.

Worse still was the highly inflammatory claim that Islam itself would be ridiculed if the DAP came to power. It was pure fearmongering and race-baiting, calculated to sow religious discord and hate.

It didn’t seem to matter much that none of the above allegations have any merit. It didn’t matter that other Malay-led parties like PKR, PAS, Amanah and Bersatu are also deeply critical of UMNO and just as determined to defeat it at the next elections. And it didn’t matter that the DAP by itself has about the same chance as a snowball in hell of taking over the country.

A national embarassment

By singling out only the DAP the way they did, UMNO leaders cast Malaysian politics as an existential struggle between Malays and Chinese. In such a scenario, there can be little room for compromise, for give and take. It promotes a zero-sum game of politics. It divides the nation into warring camps perpetually at each other’s throats. And it reinforces racial and religious bigotry as the dominant narrative.

Moreover, it scorns the many decent Malaysians of all ethnicities who cherish their diversity, who live, practice their faith and work together in peace. Unsurprisingly, many, Malays included, were simply and rightly embarrassed by what transpired at the general assembly.

Some reports also suggest that more thoughtful UMNO members were themselves disappointed at the paucity of serious policy debate and disappointed by the tone set by the party leadership.

For these reasons, UMNO’s focus on scaremongering and race-baiting might well prove to be counterproductive in the long run. By recklessly playing up racial issues, the party has lost credibility. By ignoring the critical issues facing the nation, it has drawn yet further scrutiny to its own dismal record in power.

Its up to the opposition now

After this general assembly, UMNO would be hard pressed to convince the nation that it has not turned its back on racial and religious diversity in favour of purely sectarian politics.

BN parties, already struggling to remain relevant, have also been dealt a fatal blow. Non-Malays in particular will find it difficult to trust political parties that are associated with the very party that despises and denigrates them as an existential threat, as interlopers and enemies of the faith.

Malaysia’s future as a secular multiracial democracy now rests with the leaders of PKR, DAP, Bersatu and Amanah.

If they cannot forge at this critical juncture in the life of our nation a united opposition with at least a minimal platform that respects racial and religious diversity, that upholds the constitution, that promises good governance and respect for the rights of all, then we are well and truly damned.

 

Crackdown on Freedom and Democracy in Malaysia


December 12, 2016

Crackdown on freedom and democracy in Malaysia

 68 years later, it is still celebrated in various magnitudes; its significance and meaning varies from one nation to the next but for Malaysians, the struggle to uphold justice, freedom and democracy has become more crucial than ever.
COMMENT

By Syerleena Abdul Rashid@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

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Every year on 10th December, the world celebrates Human Rights Day, a day where we reflect hard-fought battles to restore democracy, freedom and justice. Human Rights Day symbolizes past, present and future struggles to make universal human rights a reality for everyone– regardless of race, gender, disability or religion.

68 years later, it is still celebrated in various magnitudes; its significance and meaning varies from one nation to the next but for Malaysians, the struggle to uphold justice, freedom and democracy has become more crucial than ever; our struggle now is a battle between oppressive forces verses liberty.

2016 has been marred with a barrage of atrocities that violates civility, human rights and basic human decency. In times of absurd revelations, defending our constitutional rights have become more significant than ever. As Malaysians, we must protect these rights and appreciate the battles fought by those who resolved to see a better vision of the world materialize.

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Prosecution and oppression of dissenting voices have spread beyond opposition politicians and activists to ordinary citizens and students. The Barisan Nasional government’s actions indicate a sickening crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly in the country – a last act of defiance born out of desperation and anxiety.

The latest victims of the tyrannical forces of those who govern from the ivory towers in Putrajaya are the four Universiti Malaya students: Anis Syafiqah Md Yusof, Muhammad Luqman Nul Haqim Zul Razali, Muhammad Luqman Hakim Mohd Fazli and Suhail Wan. All four students were recently suspended by Universiti Malaya for participating in the Tangkap MO1 rally at Dataran Merdeka, which was held earlier this year.

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Other students have also been persecuted, charged and suspended in the past – Adam Adli, Fahmi Zainol, Asheeq Ali, Safwan Shamsuddin, Khairol Najib, Haw Yu Hong, Nur Syamimi Munirah, Khairul Anwar, and Adam Wilfrid; this list will continue to grow leading up to the next general elections.

The Barisan Nasional government lead by Prime Minister Najib Razak is on a feverish witch hunt to chastise and persecute Malaysians who dare criticize the wrong doings of the present regime. Commenting on 1MDB, questioning the slapdash leadership, demanding free and fair elections, drawing cartoons and student activism have all been met with iron fist punishment. The fascist like crack down on opposing voices is a stark contradiction of what is guaranteed to us as citizens of a democratic nation.

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Prime Minister Najib Razak and the Barisan Nasional federal government have the obligation to respect human rights and protect fundamental freedoms enshrined in both international law and the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. They must also be made to understand that human rights is not just about freedom from violence, unlawful detention, discrimination; it is extended to freedom to express, criticize, associate, assemble, and practice one’s religion.

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As Malaysians, we must demand that the ruling regime stop the mindless persecution of students and other dissenting voices, stop the senseless oppression and fear mongering tactics.

Prime Minister Najib Razak must be reminded that he is the Prime Minister of all Malaysians and not just the 48%, with that being said, he must reinstate democratic freedom, restore confidence in the system and provide sound solutions to alleviate us from this quagmire of socio-political despair.

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As Malaysians, it is our utmost duty to see that our rights will not be trampled by those whose lust for power overrides logic and common human decency. We must also ensure that justice is extended to other victims of tyranny, protect those who are in danger and insist that investigations are to be carried out thoroughly and justly.

We, as Malaysians, have an obligation to see that democracy and liberty prevail even in our darkest hours.

Syerleena Abdul Rashid is DAP Wanita National Assistant Publicity Secretary.

 

 

Malaysian Politics: ‘Mother Of All Battles’ Shaping Up – Analysis


December 11, 2016

Malaysian Politics: ‘Mother Of All Battles’ Shaping Up – Analysis

http://www.eurasiareview.com/09122016-malaysian-politics-mother-of-all-battles-shaping-up-analysis/#comment-623327

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Malaysia’s besieged leader Najib Razak claims to have turned around his political fortunes despite the 1MDB scandal. While UMNO is increasingly confident of facing the coming general election, the ground may be far from sweet.

By Yang Razali Kassim*

The mother of all battles is shaping up in Malaysian politics as beleaguered prime minister Najib Razak pulled out all stops to defend himself in the face of a reconfiguring opposition. Putting his dominant party, UMNO, on a war footing at its recently concluded annual general assembly, Najib resorted to the Islamic doctrine of wala’ – or loyalty to the leader – as he manoeuvred to rally support and ready UMNO for a general election.

The enabler was his Number 2, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who started the ball rolling by pledging his own loyalty to Najib, who has been under siege since the outbreak of the 1MDB scandal last year. UMNO for the first time had to ward off an uprising against a sitting president led by a former prime minister and party president. In a single-minded drive to push Najib out, Mahathir Mohamad is leading a “people’s movement” to “Save Malaysia”. Having resigned from UMNO in protest against Najib, Mahathir has joined the opposition, even reconciling with his former ally-turned-nemesis Anwar Ibrahim to revive their once powerful political partnership.

Najib’s Survival Strategy

Mahathir is now demonised as a traitor who would even sleep with the enemy, the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP), to destroy UMNO, the Malay party he once led. The trigger that launched Mahathir on this warpath is 1MDB which has implicated Najib despite his denial of wrongdoing. The scandal has energised the divided opposition as well as Najib’s critics, culminating in the departure from UMNO of Mahathir and three other leaders, including deputy prime minister and UMNO deputy president Muhyddin Yassin. All three have formed a new party PPBM, also known for short as Bersatu.

This new party is set to join the Anwar-inspired Pakatan Harapan, formerly known as Pakatan Rakyat. This could strengthen the opposition coalition out to topple Najib, along with UMNO and the ruling national front coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN). It is this prospect of a reconstituted opposition coalition led in spirit and form by the two formidable former foes – Mahathir and Anwar – that caused Zahid to predict an epic clash. “We have to work triple-hard than previous elections because the mother of all battles will be in this coming elections,” he told the MalayMail in an interview. Another UMNO leader, the chief minister of Johor state, has described the coming general election as a “battle for survival”.

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With his back to the wall, Najib’s strategy for survival has transformed him from a gentlemanly politician to an almost unrecognisable political animal. At the outbreak of the 1MDB scandal, he swiftly removed key senior officials who were not on his side, including the attorney-general, before sacking his chief critic, the deputy premier Muhyiddin. 1MDB has now grown into an international scandal as several governments launched probes where the financial fiasco affected their jurisdictions; yet at the UMNO general assembly over the weekend, 1MDB was hardly an issue as the entire party’s attention was deflected towards the impending general election.

Rohingya Issue

Najib the Malay nationalist then burnished his credentials as an Islamic leader by latching on to the latest humanitarian crisis on the Rohingya in Myanmar, which came at an opportune time for him. Usually cautious when making his moves and choosing his words, Najib was a different persona at the Rohingya solidarity rally the next day.

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“Enough is enough.They want me to close my eyes? Shut my mouth? I will not keep quiet. We will defend them (the Rohingya)!”–Najib Razak. How do you propose to execute your pledge. Mr Prime Minister? Talk is cheap.–Din Merican

He did the unprecedented in ASEAN: He brushed aside a warning by Myanmar not to interfere in the country’s internal affairs. Upset that his foreign minister was turned away by Aung San Suu Kyi when he sought bilateral talks on the issue, Najib declared a limit to the ASEAN principle of non-interference when it came to human rights abuses. He even ticked off Suu Kyi for not living up to her name as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, while urging Indonesian president Joko Widodo to mobilise a larger rally in support of the Rohingya: “Enough is enough!” he said. “They want me to close my eyes? Shut my mouth? I will not keep quiet. We will defend them (the Rohingya)!”

Billed as the Muslim Ummah Solidarity Rally for the Rohingya, it was clearly not just to show solidarity with the persecuted Rohingya, thousands of whom have taken refuge in Malaysia. It was also to showcase solidarity between UMNO and PAS, the Islamist opposition which Najib has been trying hard to woo. Indeed, this was a showcase moment – of him on stage together with the opposition Islamist PAS leader, Hadi Awang.

In coming together to support the Rohingya, UMNO and PAS have signalled their converging political interests. While this does not necessarily mean they would end up as formal allies in the coming elections, it does raise the prospect of an electoral pact. The more UMNO can win PAS over, the lesser the chances of the Pakatan Harapan opposition getting stronger. ASEAN will now have to contain the political fallout on the diplomatic and regional fronts.

The Mood Outside UMNO

Najib is clearly overflowing with confidence. UMNO leaders claimed the party had turned the corner and was now solidly behind him. While this may be so, it is too early to say if UMNO is completely out of the woods, going by publicly-aired sentiments. One came from a recent press conference by an UMNO Youth leader who quit the party after he was suspended for allegedly trying to “sabotage Najib” by attempting to provide Mahathir with a speaking platform.

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It was not so much the Youth leader’s resignation but what he said. He said many more were standing behind him and claimed there would be “busloads” who would leave UMNO in “managed waves”. This would build up to the general election that is widely expected to be quickened to next year, before the fractured opposition could consolidate.

On a broader note, while UMNO may still be the dominant Malay party, it is no longer regarded as the sole representative of the Malay community’s political aspirations. Outside UMNO – indeed outside the Malay community – the mood may be in stark contrast. A recent article by a former senior civil servant and now a think-tank senior, Ramon Navaratnam, was telling. He warned of a “serious disconnect” between UMNO leaders and the wider Malaysian public.

Ramon wondered whether the UMNO leaders’ confidence and happiness was “shared by all Malays and Bumiputeras and especially, most Malaysians, including non-Malays and non-Muslims”. “Prime Minister Najib Razak and UMNO leaders are generally confident of the future, but are Malaysians happy too?” He listed five sources of discontent – inflation, corruption, unemployment, human rights, and deteriorating safety and security. The chairman of the ASLI Centre for Public Policy Studies said: “Malaysia’s public confidence by any measure is now low and declining…This is causing much loss of public confidence and unhappiness, which all political leaders must address expeditiously, before it’s too late for the 14th general election.”

*Yang Razali Kassim is Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

 

Double-Speak–The UMNO Political Culture


December 6, 2016

Double-Speak–The UMNO Political Culture

by KJ John@www.malayiakini.com

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Double-Speak is a political way of life for Malaysia’s Prime Minister–Why can’t we say that he is a liar?

Is double-speak natural to human beings and the only way to become a true-blue politician worth his/her weight? An UMNO Deputy Minister and an equally idiotic Deputy Speaker of Parliament could not see anything wrong with that MP’s wrong speech and impure motives about another MP.

The victim of this abuse was a lady Member of Parliament; whose dignity was obviously denied but our Deputy Speaker appeared to play down the incident. It was clearly recorded vide a video-clip of our parliamentary session distributed to me from Singapore.

Sadly, too, if Parliament is our symbolic leadership head of our nation-state’s parliamentary democracy system; it is sad that the rotting of our fish-head has begun in that August House. My only retort to the deputy minister is: “padan muka” with this note: our grandchildren are watching and learning from your uncouth conduct.

Hadi’s public misinformation

Was Ustaz Abdul Hadi Awang, the President of PAS, also participating in doubles-peak with his Act 355 amendments agenda? While he is a Member of Parliament for Marang, is he not elected to do at least two things; one, is to represent all the people in Marang and two, to speak up on bills and handle concerns in Parliament for both his party and his constituency.

But, my question to him: is he only a Member of Parliament for Muslims with complete disregard for non-Muslims who live in Terengganu?

My take is that Hadi’s Act 355 amendments is simply mischievous and therefore malicious in intention. It is absolutely an attempt to open back doors for hudud implementation in the whole of Malaysia; without labelling it as such. My previous column argued eight reasons against it but allow me now to appeal to all my Muslim friends in Malaysia to explain why we (as Christians) have little choice but to oppose this bill.

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The Village Idiot and UMNO Clown with his Corrupt Boss

First, think of Malaysia as existing practically at three levels of reality. These are federal, state and local levels. That means that when one is a federal citizen, that role ascribes and observes certain rights and obligations to all of Malaysia and to all her citizens; there cannot be inequity of citizenship. That is a universal expectation of citizenry anywhere in the world; even when some are treated more equal than others.

Therefore, while his bill was promoted and projected as a bill for Kelantan (one state) to dispense new Syariah by-laws with new limits; the simple fact is that federal law is being mobilised to enable state level criminal prosecution, and therefore its application is always national and federal.

Allow Kelantanese to breathe green air?

Can we assume, for arguments sake, that Kelantan gets this bill for Syariah system compliance and was not designed with hudud intent in mind. Let us grant this right to one of the nine states with rulers; as their second level of operational reality; state-level existence.

Whether we like it or not, such an enablement includes Sabah and Sarawak, too. But, please help me think through the real consequential issues and concerns of all other state jurisdictions at local levels premised on this Kelantan hypothetical experiment.

Therefore my simple but honest question to every Malaysian living in urban and suburban areas is as follows:

If criminal law is now a jurisdiction of any state and consequently their local government Administrations; cannot these authorities also later be mandated that, for example, only Muslims can live in a particular geography of Kelantan; whatever their logic or reasons?

Can non-Muslims therefore be disallowed to buy homes in some other specified area? Or, can it be stipulated that their beaches, like Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB), are now only for Muslim-specific attired swimmers? Non-Muslim can therefore be excluded, right?

Of course, supermarkets with male and female lanes become a mandatory given; if not halal and non-halal carts.Is all the above mere fiction from my head, or is there some element of reality to all of it?

The reason I ask these questions is that only our criminal laws can distinguish between the purity of intentions versus obvious and real evidence of wrongdoing. This is our practical but real level of human existence. Any differences or gaps between one’s espoused theory and the one-in-use is always a matter of spiritual consideration and never the domain of public policy of any state.

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Once Friend, now a Political Foe

Therefore, regardless of what Hadi or anyone says; the new bill gives unlimited jurisdiction for the Kelantan state government to colour their air green and it can insist that everyone can only breathe and live such green air; in Kelantan. How else could the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (JAIS) have raided Damansara Utama Methodist Church or DUMC (a church complex) without a police search permit merely on suspicion of some wrongdoing?

This gap between intentions and real action causes a lot of doubt and makes citizens question true political motives. For example, in a BBC interview with Maria Chin Abdullah, they could not understand why she was released before the court’s habeas corpus hearing.

My answer is simply that the Home Affairs Minister could not defend their abuse of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma); as former Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail so clearly already explained from the Hansard records what were the real intentions for the enactment.

God or Allah is our creator

Before the 2013 GE, Ustaz Hadi attended a meeting chaired by Anwar Ibrahim and attended by a whole group of NGOs and promised all of us that the word ‘Allah’ can be equally used by Muslims as with non-Muslims. I was there and heard his promise. But today they do exactly the opposite. Can we trust such politicians, even when they speak with green tongues?

Therefore, my only question to Ustaz Hadi is as follows:

Do we really believe in different Gods?

Is not intention in faith always a personal human faith matter and not a matter anyone else’s religious enforcement? Is not such responsibility for faith always a personal matter and not for the state?

How then can anyone justify all ‘forced limits to human intentions?’ Are we then not taking over God’s role and responsibility, and thereby playing God?

 

The State of a Paranoid Government: Malaysia’s Freedom in Jeopardy


December 4, 2016

The State of a Paranoid Government: Malaysia’s Freedom in Jeopardy

by Aedi Asri@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Zahid Hamidi says the task force, consisting of the Police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Attorney-General’s Chambers will also check on civil society movements receiving overseas funds.

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DPM Zahid Hamid, that’s what happens when you lose your legitimacy to govern; people power takes hold. Civil society organizations are formed, and citizens take to the streets to protest. Then you stifle and intimidate them, and the people react and the whole situation repeats itself in a vicious circle of repression, reaction and suppression. 

Governing for all its complexities is,  in fact, simple if you genuinely want to serve people. But not, if you are incompetent and corrupt. Our leaders like you never learn the lessons of history, and that is people power triumphs in the end.–Din Merican

The government has set up a task force to monitor and investigate movements which are seeking to “overthrow the government”, says UMNO Acting Deputy President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

In his winding up speech at the 70th Umno general assembly, Zahid, who is also home minister, said the task force comprised the police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

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“Let the task force do its job independently. If they find solid evidence, then action will be taken,” he said.

Zahid claimed there were some organizations here which had been been influenced by the idea of what he called “the Color Movement”, which, he said, was being pushed by an institution known as the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action Strategies (Canvas).

The Color Movement, he said, wanted to accomplish revolutions without violence by training, planning and developing strategies to oust democratically-elected governments.

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He said the Color Movement was a concept founded by Gene Sharp through the Albert Einstein Institute, which, he added, received funds from the National Endowment for Democracy, International Republic Institute , George Soros Foundation and the Open Society Foundations (OSF).

In recent years, Zahid claimed, Color Movement activities had been carried out in Ukraine, Lebanon, Iraq and Kuwait, among other countries.

“In Malaysia, some organisations have been found to be influenced by the idea of the Color Movement, too, including Suaram, BERSIH, Bar Council, Malaysiakini and Sarawak Report,” he claimed.

According to a report in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) published on Nov 3, civil society organisations in Malaysia had received funds from OSF in recent years.

This was confirmed by the OSF in their response to queries from the Hong Kong-based publication.

OSF had also admitted to providing small grants to election reform coalition BERSIH shortly after it was formed in 2011 but said it did not currently support the group.

“The Open Society Foundations are proud to have supported civil society in Malaysia for 10 years. Claims that the Open Society Foundations funded attempts to overthrow the government in Malaysia are entirely false.

“The Open Society Foundations support justice, accountability and democratic practice around the world, and in Malaysia our grant-making to civil society includes efforts to promote public health, foster fair migration policies and encourage the civic and political participation of all Malaysian citizens,” OSF was quoted as saying in an email reply to SCMP.